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What to serve at a royal wedding?

4 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

Guests and the public won’t see the menu for the meals to celebrate Friday’s wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton until the wedding day, but tradition dictates that some aspects of it were determined centuries ago – starting with the fact that the menus are always in French, even when they’re designed to show off British cuisine.

Food writers, royal watchers and chefs have been speculating about the menu since the engagement was announced last year, but so far no insiders have leaked all the details.

According to the official schedule, 600-plus guests will gather for a post-ceremony reception at Buckingham Palace, a party that’s likely to include rivers of Champagne and about 10,000 canapés but not a sit-down meal, says former palace chef Darren McGrady. The decision to eschew a formal sit-down dinner likely stems from a few factors, The New York Times reports, including logistics at the palace kitchen that’s equipped to throw smaller formal state dinners and worries about how a public that’s struggling in an uncertain economy would perceive a pricey celebration.

In the evening, the groom’s father will host a more formal three-course meal for about 300 friends, family and visiting dignitaries. That menu won’t become public until the wedding day, but many chefs and historians are speculating about dishes that may grace the table. British food writer Caroline Sargent took a look back at past royal wedding fare, from the 1840 wedding party for Victoria and Albert that likely included cod with oyster sauce, roast leg of lamb, ballotines of duck with Cumberland sauce, pheasant with potato ribbons, pastries with fruit and chocolate profiteroles to the wedding breakfast of brill in lobster sauce, chicken breasts garnished with lamb mousse and strawberries with Cornish cream that was enjoyed by the groom’s parents when they wed in 1981.

Mary-Catherine Deibel, co-owner of UpStairs on the Square in Cambridge, Mass., told the Boston Herald that the table will probably boast lighter, modern twists on traditional dishes – a reflection of the influence nouvelle cuisine has had on traditionally heavy British fare.

Celebrity chefs suggest dishes

Only a select few insiders know what’s on the menu, but that didn’t keep the world’s celebrity chefs from speculating on what they would serve if they had the gig, including Paula Deen, who would replace British blood pudding with her signature banana pudding, and Marcus Samuelsson, who would opt for fun over formal with fish and chips.

The cakes

The sweet star of the show will be a multi-tiered fruitcake created by well-known pastry chef Fiona Cairns, with each level decorated with a different theme and 3-D flowers representing the four corners of the U.K.

Guests will also get a taste of a cake made at the request of the groom – a concoction made with 35 pounds of chocolate and approximately 1,700 of Prince William’s favorite McVitie’s Rich Tea biscuits.

Dishes that won’t make the menu

  • Foie gras. The evening dinner will likely include at least some seasonal ingredients from Prince Charles’ organic farm, but the prince has banned foie gras from all royal menus since 2008 because of concerns about the way it’s produced.
  • They’re probably proving popular among U.S. royal watchers, but Dunkin’ Donuts Royal Wedding doughnut – a heart-shaped confection filled with jelly and covered with icing – is sure not to make the official menu.
  • Royal Virility Performance, a commemorative Viagra-laced beer made by Scotland-based BrewDog Brewery – brewers there created the brew as a mock protest against all the other companies jumping on the bandwagon to roll out royal wedding-themed products.